Caerphilly MP Wayne David’s blog: July 4
The other week I was fortunate to be called to put a question in Prime Minister’s Questions (PMQs).
My question was short and to the point. This is what I said: “The Secretary of State for Wales has said that she is prepared to be sacked because of her opposition to Government policy on high speed rail. Will the Prime Minister take her up on that very kind offer?”
The question attracted huge cheers and laughter from the Labour benches and the question was referred to as the “quote of the week” by the House of Commons in-house magazine.
Unfortunately, the Prime Minister chose not to take up Cheryl Gillan’s offer and she remains in post.
The serious point to all of this is that the Secretary of State for Wales represents Chesham and Amersham in Buckinghamshire. She visits Wales from time to time, but the issue she feels strongly about is the Government’s plan to allow a high speed railway line through her picturesque constituency. With some justification, the Government argue that a high speed rail link between London and Birmingham – Britain’s first and second cities – is needed so that Britain begins to have the necessary transport infrastructure for us to meet the economic challenges we face. It is a matter for Cheryl Gillan to decide whether to put her constituency interests before the national interest.
But from a Welsh point of view, the really interesting thing is that the Secretary of State for Wales is clearly much more concerned about her Buckinghamshire seat, rather than the interests of Wales. We have all welcomed the commitment of this Government to the earlier promise by Labour to electrify the railway line from Paddington to South Wales. Although we were disappointed that the Tory-led Government did not adopt all of Labour’s plan and promise an electrified line down to Swansea.
As a Welsh MP I have to say that it would have been nice to have seen the Secretary of State for Wales offering to resign, or be sacked, over the Government’s failure to electrify the South Wales line to Swansea. But, although it may sound a little cruel, the word in Westminster is that Cheryl Gillan has been such a poor Secretary of State for Wales, her time in that job is very limited. Perhaps the high speed rail proposal through her constituency will allow her cover to leave frontline politics.
Labour MP for Caerphilly